The winner of this year’s BBC short story competition described a near death experience. Lionel Shriver brilliantly explored a dramatic incident in a young woman’s life and used it as a springboard to explore the effect of those moments when we know we could have died but didn’t.
I really sympathised. Like you, I’ve had a few near death experiences. As Ms Shriver points out, we keep on having these near death until experiences until the one that is an actual death experience. Like all good art, it made me think again about my own life.
We’ve all had that moment when we stepped out into the road and nearly got knocked down by a car. I also remember an occasion when I was connecting some bare wires and hadn’t turned off the electricity. Fortunately I got a shock that went in and out of my thumb rather than killing me.
Recently I nearly fell into a busy road . I was walking along Southgate Street Winchester back to my office when my leg suddenly gave way and just for a moment I started to fall sideways. I immediately recovered and there was no harm done.
In fact it led to a great experience of how good the NHS can be. I phoned my GP to tell her what had happened. Concerned that I might have had a ‘transient ischemic attack’, she sent me to the stroke unit at Winchester’s Royal South Hampshire Hospital… the same day. I went and they gave me a whole range of tests… the same day. Brilliant service.
I turned out to be a simple blood pressure issue. An adjustment of my medication and I was fine. But if that momentary loss of balance had lasted a little longer I would have been under a passing lorry. Instead of being a memorable near death experience, I would have died with my last thought being ‘That’s odd.’